At this point we all know that wearing a mask is a highly recommended—in some places, mandatory—method of curbing the spread of coronavirus. Their use has been endorsed by top health experts and their effectiveness has been proven by research—specifically when it comes to their ability to prevent an infected person from spreading the virus. Everyone is advised to wear one because many COVID-19 patients are asymptomatic and may not know they are sick. However, according to new research, some experts say there is evidence that masks do more than help prevent infected individuals from spreading coronavirus to others—they may actually lower your risk of contracting a severe case of COVID-19.

In a new research paper published in Journal of General Internal Medicine, doctors suggest that wearing a mask limits the number of coronavirus particles that are able to enter your nose or mouth when you are in close contact with an infected individual. In turn, the doctors explain, you are more likely to experience a more mild—likely asymptomatic—case of COVID-19 should you become infected. In other words, less particles leads to less severe symptoms. "Universal masking reduces the 'inoculum' or dose of the virus for the mask-wearer, leading to more mild and asymptomatic infection manifestations," Monica Gandhi, MD, MPH, professor of medicine at University of California, San Francisco and study co-author, wrote in the paper.

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